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Aubrecht v. Pennsylvania State Police

March 23, 2009

CHRISTOPHER D. AUBRECHT, PLAINTIFF,
v.
PENNSYLVANIA STATE POLICE; JEFFREY B. MILLER; JOHN R. BROWN; RALPH M. PERIANDI; RODNEY PATTERSON; JAMES J. GAROFOLO; JAMES MCFADDEN; MARCENIA ROBINSON; STACY SCHMITT; BRYAN L. KEY; ANTHONY DELUCA; MICHELLE FREE AND PENNSYLVANIA STATE TROOPER ASSOCIATION, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: David Stewart Cercone United States District Judge

Electronic Filing

MEMORANDUMOPINION

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff, Christopher D. Aubrecht ("Aubrecht" or "Plaintiff"), initiated this action against Defendants, Pennsylvania State Police ("PSP"), Colonel Jeffrey B. Miller ("Miller"), Lt. Colonel John R. Brown ("Brown"), Lt. Colonel Ralph M. Periandi ("Periandi"), Captain Rodney Patterson ("Patterson"), Captain James J. Garofolo ("Garafolo"), Lt. James McFadden ("McFadden"), Lt. Marcenia Robinson ("Robinson"), Lt. Stacy Schmitt ("Schmitt"), Sgt. Bryan L. Key ("Key"), Sgt. Anthony DeLuca ("DeLuca"), Cpl. Michelle Free*fn1 ("Free")(collectively the "Commonwealth Defendants") and the Pennsylvania State Trooper Association (the "Association") by filing a seven (7) count complaint with this Court on August 7, 2006. In his complaint, Aubrecht alleges the following: (a) a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, for violation of his rights under the First, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States; (b) injunctive relief for such alleged violations; (c) violation of Pennsylvania's Whistleblower Law, 43 PA. STAT. § 1421 et seq.; (d)Defamation; (e) Invasion of Privacy; (f) Failure to Represent; and (g) Civil Conspiracy. Defendants have filed motions for summary judgment, Plaintiff has responded and the matters are now before the Court.

As per Local Rule 56.1(B)(1), both the Commonwealth Defendants and the Association filed Concise Statements of Undisputed Material Facts. Plaintiff, however, failed to file a response to the statements, therefore, pursuant to Local Rule 56.1(C) and (E), the facts set forth in the statements of both the Commonwealth Defendants and the Association are deemed admitted for the purposes of deciding the motions for summary judgment. Further, in his brief in opposition to the motions for summary judgment, Plaintiff has failed to support any of the facts alleged therein with citations to the record. The Court will not consider any alleged fact not supported by a citation to the record.

For the reasons set forth below, the Court will grant summary judgment for the Commonwealth Defendants and the Association on Aubrecht's claims under §1983, any state claim subject to Eleventh Amendment or sovereign immunity, as well as any state claim deemed abandoned, and the Court will refuse to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over any remaining pendent state claims.

II. STATEMENT OF THE CASE

Aubrecht is a Pennsylvania State trooper and has been employed by the PSP since 1994. Commonwealth Def. Statement of Undisputed Material Facts ¶ 1 (hereinafter "Com. SUMF"); Association Statement of Undisputed Material Facts ¶ 6 (hereinafter "Assoc. SUMF"). Aubrecht is currently assigned to Troop T, which covers the Pennsylvania Turnpike system, at the New Stanton Station. Com. SUMF ¶¶ 2 & 3; Assoc. SUMF ¶ 6.

The job of a turnpike trooper is primarily traffic enforcement, which makes it difficult to evaluate a traffic trooper's performance. Com. SUMF ¶ 4. In evaluating a trooper's relative performance, one thing a supervisor will look at is a comparison of a trooper's numbers in categories such as citations, written warnings, and assists to motorists, to the "station average"*fn2 in those categories. Com. SUMF ¶ 8. If a trooper's numbers continually fall below the station average, a trooper may be assigned a supervisor to ride with the trooper, a "ride-along". Com. SUMF ¶¶ 15 & 16. During a ride-along, a supervisor will observe the quality of the trooper's work, and how he performs his duties. Com. SUMF ¶ 36. It is undisputed that Aubrecht was subject to numerous supervisory ride-alongs.

On or about January 17, 2002, Aubrecht submitted a letter to Sgt. Key complaining about the frequent supervisory ride-alongs he received and asking for a reason why he was selected*fn3 .

Assoc. SUMF ¶ 10. Key forwarded the letter to Lt. Schmitt and Schmitt met with Aubrecht regarding his complaint in January or February of 2002. Id. Aubrecht contends that Schmitt said he ordered the ride-alongs because Aubrecht wrote too many warnings and not enough citations. Id.; Com. SUMF ¶ 39. Aubrecht contends he explained why his numbers were the way they were, and Schmitt stopped the ride-alongs*fn4 . Com. SUMF ¶ 39.

Aubrecht contends that in June of 2004, Sgt. Key told him that if he wanted to get his weekends off and attend classes, he needed to write twenty (20) citations per month. Com. SUMF ¶ 19. On August 15, 2004, Aubrecht sent a memo to Key in which he complained of being subject to supervisory ride-alongs ordered solely based upon his citation numbers. Com. SUMF ¶ 20; Com. SUMF Ex. K. Aubrecht also voiced several concerns regarding the "quota" and his specific style of enforcement. Com. SUMF Ex. K. Key responded by e-mail on August 16, 2004, contending Aubrecht misunderstood; Key never mentioned a quota, nor was Aubrecht "directed . . . to write 20 citations per month . . ." Com. SUMF ¶ 21; Com. SUMF Ex. L. Aubrecht admits, however, that no one in authority ever told him there was a quota, he was told that, compared to the station average, his numbers were low. Com. SUMF ¶ 18. Further, Aubrecht admits that at the time he was allegedly told to write twenty (20) citations per month, the station average was approximately thirty (30) citations. Com. SUMF ¶ 22.

Aubrecht asserts that he was subject to adverse employment actions because he failed to meet the alleged citation quota, and that the adverse treatment increased subsequent to June 2004. Assoc. SUMF ¶ 21. The adverse employment actions of which he complains include ridealongs, denial of transfer requests, denial of overtime opportunities, denial of promotional opportunities, remedial training, poor performance evaluations, denial of training and certain shift selections. See generally Com. SUMF and Assoc. SUMF. Based on these perceived slights, Aubrecht filed this cause of action against what appears to be every superior officer he came into contact with since 2002.

III. LEGAL STANDARD FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

Pursuant to FED. R. CIV. P 56(c), summary judgment shall be granted when there are no genuine issues of material fact in dispute and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. To support denial of summary judgment, an issue of fact in dispute must be both genuine and material, i.e., one upon which a reasonable fact finder could base a verdict for the non-moving party and one which is essential to establishing the claim. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). When considering a motion for summary judgment, the court is not permitted to weigh the evidence or to make credibility determinations, but is limited to deciding whether there are any disputed issues and, if there are, whether they are both genuine and material. Id. The court's consideration of the facts must be in the light most favorable to the party opposing summary judgment and all reasonable inferences from the facts must be drawn in favor of that party as well. Whiteland Woods, L.P. v. Township of West Whiteland, 193 F.3d 177, 180 (3d Cir. 1999), Tigg Corp. v. Dow Corning Corp., 822 F.2d 358, 361 (3d Cir. 1987).

When the moving party has carried its burden under Rule 56(c), its opponent must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). In the language of the Rule, the nonmoving party must come forward with "specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." FED. R. CIV. P 56(e). Further, the nonmoving party cannot rely on unsupported assertions, conclusory allegations, or mere suspicions in attempting to survive a summary judgment motion. Williams v. Borough of W. Chester, 891 F.2d 458, 460 (3d Cir.1989) (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986)). The non-moving party must respond "by pointing to sufficient cognizable evidence to create material issues of fact concerning every element as to which the non-moving party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Simpson v. Kay Jewelers, Div. Of Sterling, Inc., 142 F. 3d 639, 643 n. 3 (3d Cir. 1998), quoting Fuentes v. Perskie, 32 F.3d 759, ...


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